Decompression: Shaping behavior based on natural characteristics

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Rescue ends the moment an animal is secured from an adverse situation. This is critical, now begins rehabilitation.

Decompression is usually a 30 day period when we let the canine unfold. In this period behavior is assessed at different intervals. Behavior is assessed in relation to health, environment & natural characteristic of the canine on intake. During this period key factors are considered, such as health, adoptability & the canine's desire to be a member of a human world. Each canine is assigned a human partner during this period to assess, administer & direct the path of evaluation.  The 30 days can be extended depending each canine's individual needs.

Decompression is important to give the animal time to stabilize. Health is assessed and behaviors are observed. This period also allows for objective and safe observation as the animal evolves. We are looking for "core " behavior and temperament.

Things prescribed in the decompression period:

- Hand feeding for leadership

- Basic leash and crate exercises

- Observing what the canine will "offer"

- Basic canine behaviors (aggressive, resource guarding, cognitive development, etc.)

- Daily work on an individualized level

Depending on the canines evolution in this period canines may or, may not be used in evaluation. We first want a distinct behavior that shows the canine is willing to rely on us as a resource. If we do use a canine we have 4 core canines we use. These canines have proven beyond a doubt that they can be trusted. They will signal to us when the are sensing certain things & we have worked with them closely enough to know their signals. They have also proven that they can be neutral in even the most tense situations.

Terminology to us differs from some other groups... Rehabilitation to us as an organization really only applies to any medical needs. Rescue is over the minute the canine is picked up. Behavior is assessed & shaped according to the canines natural temperament. Meaning we simply build on the strength of each canine as an individual. We do have a written adoption standard that has served us well... The standard outlines a behavior that will keep both canine & society safe. can we guarantee a canine's behavior 100%? Obviously not, which is why we are very thorough before listing a canine as "Adoptable". The canine has to show a percentage of safe & stable behavior over time to become adoptable. We also know the behavior will change once the canine is adopted, it is unrealistic to expect adopters to follow our protocol to the "T".  So when we say a canine is adoptable, the canine has shown a quality of behavior that dictates safety within society.

Our policy on cats: We NEVER guarantee the relationship between a canine & feline. Our test consists of the dogs natural instinct to either exhibit a strong prey drive towards cats , or not. Some canines live fine with cats, some do not. Proper management is the best answer to this equation, we will not set an adopter up to fail. Nor will we set our canine up to fail... we will not place a canine with strong drive towards cats in a home with cats.

This has been a brief look at some of our philosophy, policy and protocol...


William J. Bellottie


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